The problems with outsourcing

Running a web design business is tough; period. With deadlines constantly looming around every corner and the work pile towering like an unconquerable mountain; things can get a bit stressful.


Many find that in this situation that the only logical route to shortening that workload is to outsource. I mean, it makes sense right? You send the brief to a freelancer, who will work will know exactly what to do and turn it around quicktime, right?


Well if only life was this simple. While in some cases outsourcing has its benefits, though I’m not an enthusiastic advocate of it for a number of reasons;


1. Lack of transparency

Firstly, when a client chooses your web agency to design their website, they did it for a reason. A company should be honored by the fact that among the plethora of web design agencies out there (and many may produce work ‘faster’ or ‘cheaper’ than your’s) your the one that stood out from the crowd and was chosen. With this comes a lot of trust from the client. They meet you and your team, they have seen your portfolio; they want you. By outsourcing their work you?re not giving the client what they asked for: your web design.


2. Your reputation is out of your hands

When outsourcing a project, or even parts of a project ultimately your reputation is out of your hands. One of the main reasons for not outsourcing is a paranoia over the quality. Which is quite justified. In many cases freelancers do brilliant jobs when you outsource work to them, but it only takes that one bad freelancer to do a terrible job and sully your reputation with the client.


Sometimes a freelancer may be juggling three or four different jobs at the same time and once you get past the third caffeine-fueled sleepless night, quality sometimes slips. It may be that the deadline gets missed or some of the design is sloppy, either way you will be taking the hit for it. If your client doesn’t know that you have outsourced their work then it reflects bad on your style of working. On the other hand, if they do know then you will look like a lax project manager.


Remember, your reputation is on line with every project that you deliver; sometimes it’s best to keep it in your own hands.


3. It doesn’t really cut the workload

While you may think that outsourcing that bit of design or copywriting is saving you and your team time, best check again, because it really isn’t. Instead, rather than actually doing the work you advertise as part of your service, you are taking on more administrative and oversight work. This doesn’t just include a small proof read or testing, it also includes invoicing, researching the right freelancer, endless communication attempts, so on. Really, it doesn’t save that much time, instead it just lumbers you with the boring side of the job.


4. It skews communication with your client

Logically, when you are working with a client, the preference is to keep communications as tight as possible; even if you are out sourcing. Though, the issue when it comes to outsourcing work is that communications become skewed between you and the client and in a way you become more of an intermediary between your client and the freelancer.


The issue with this is that feedback from the client is critical to completing a project. If your client isn’t happy with the work that the freelancer has produced then it becomes a real struggle to try and communicate ideas as a mediator. I think everyone will agree with me when I say it is far easier to work with seamless communication, not as a middleman.


5. Lack of control when it comes to meeting deadlines

Meeting deadlines is absolutely vital when it comes to gaining client trust and satisfaction. No One likes a missed deadline. Outsourcing parts of a project means that you lose control over when the work is complete, as you will be relying on an external entity. If you haven’t hired the right freelancer (and let’s be honest, you never really know until you have used them for a long time) then you could find yourself coming into a lot of trouble with meeting deadlines.


6. Finding the right freelancer…

Can be very difficult. In a pool of thousands of freelancers looking for work, finding the right one to work with can be extremely difficult. When you find the right freelancer then outsourcing can be effective, but the hard part if finding the right one. Unfortunately, you don’t know that you have the right freelancer until you have worked with them for a while, and this can mean that along the way you may have many bad experiences; which can affect your client relationships.


Dedicating time to find the right freelancer can also be time consuming and quite irritating; in fact the time spent trying to find the right freelancer could quite easily be spent cutting through that workload. Though, once you have found a good freelancer outsourcing work can sometimes be profitable.


Really, in the end it does boil down to how you manage your company; many web design agencies work fine when outsourcing work. In fact many have built up companies that way. Just for me personally, I like to know that the client knows exactly who they are working with, it just makes things a little bit more honest and fluid that way.